Well, COVID-19 has officially hit Guadalupe County. Whatever we may think of the social distancing measures being put into place by businesses and governing officials in our area, they are here now, a reality to be dealt with. Of course we want to be prudent, and do what we can to help the elderly and the immunocompromised among us. Amid the uncertainty and the bleak goings-on that we’re all well aware of, there is much to be thankful for. The H-E-B where I usually shop may be running low on some items I’d like to buy, but they appear to be working hard to restock. The available pickup dates for Curbside service are a few days out from when I order, but Curbside is still being offered, and encouraged, with the usual $4.95 fee being waived. The husband’s business has slowed down, but that gives him a chance to catch up on some work around the house. Last week he went out and got some baby chicks from the feed store. The chicken coop is mostly built, and a real beauty it is, too; all it needs is some decking on the porch and a little ramp for the chickens to run up. In the meantime, the chicks are residing in a high-sided watering trough in a corner of our living room, with a lovely brass lamp for warmth and ambiance. A few weeks back, the husband planted two persimmon […]
I was in a seafood restaurant on North Padre when “Rocket Man” started playing, and right away a whole train of associations started in my mind. “Rocket Man” made me think of “Space Oddity”—David Bowie’s “ground control to Major Tom” song. And Major Tom made me think of Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I’ve watched this movie at least ten times. I truly love it, and its hauntingly beautiful soundtrack. I could (and might) write a whole piece on it, but for now I’ll focus on just a couple of scenes. Initially the Bowie song’s significance in the story is a negative one. Ted Hendricks, the jerk character tasked with overseeing the downsizing involved with LIFE Magazine’s transition from print to digital (Adam Scott in an unsympathetic role, with aggressively overgroomed hair and beard), taunts zoned-out employee Walter: “Ground control to Major Tom! Can you hear me, Major Tom?” before flicking a paper clip at him. It’s a pretty low point for Walter, witnessed by his love interest, Cheryl (Kristin Wiig in a not-particularly-comedic role). Up to this point in the story, all we know about Cheryl is that Walter is attracted to her and that she seems nice enough. We like Walter, and therefore we want him to succeed with Cheryl. Not much has gone his way so far. But then something happens that turns Cheryl into a character we like for herself, not just someone […]
I did it! I made four gallons of chicken and sausage gumbo for the family to eat over the winter. Click here to go straight to the recipe, or read on for the expanded version. My recipe is adapted from one given to me years ago by my friend Brian Tucker. I was introduced to Brian’s gumbo one day at a potluck lunch following a martial arts event. For some reason I was among the last to reach the buffet line, which by that time had been considerably picked over and now looked something like the desolation of Smaug, with little remaining besides a few raw carrots and some fried chicken breading crumbs. I was tired and hungry and cold, and as I passed empty serving dish after empty serving dish, my sinking feeling got sinking-er and sinking-er. Then I saw it: a slow cooker near the end of the line, still half full of some rich thick meaty dark mixture, with a stack of bowls placed thoughtfully beside it. I ladled myself a bowlful, and as I ate of the warm, delicious stuff, I thought, “God bless whoever made this gumbo.” I later learned that Brian was the man. I gave him some well-deserved thanks and praise, and he kindly gave me his recipe. I still have Brian’s recipe, a single page printed on both sides with thorough-going, single-spaced prose. Brian is a joyful cook, and his recipe fairly […]
What with it getting so chilly and all (predicted highs in the low seventies for Friday and Saturday), I’ve been hankering to make a big batch of gumbo. The thing about gumbo is, I like best to eat it in the cold-weather months (the real cold-weather months, not this low seventies stuff), but okra is a summer-to-early-fall crop. Last year someone gifted us with two pounds of fresh okra late in the summer–just enough for a double batch of gumbo. I froze most of the gumbo, and we happily ate it through the winter. Then a couple of days ago, my mother-in-law sent a bag of okra home with my daughter–again, two pounds, exactly what I need. We just butchered our hog, so we have plenty of smoked sausage ready to go. Perfect timing. Gumbo starts with chicken stock, so I’m making that today. I’m including my chicken stock recipe in this post, and if you’re interested in that recipe and want to go right to it, you can find it here, with ingredients and procedure all compact and straightforward from start to finish without a lot of pictures and digressions and maundering on about the virtues of chicken stock and how I like to use it. If you don’t mind the maundering, read on. I make chicken stock in large vats. I figure if you’re going to make a gallon of chicken stock, you might as well make two […]
The horses have the run of the acreage, and every so often they mosey up to the house to check in. The boss horse is Monte. He is a big boy, supposedly of mixed Quarter Horse and Belgian Draft lineage, though he has neither confirmed nor denied this, and of a confident and nosy disposition. We’ve been told that he used to work as a rodeo pickup horse–the kind whose riders pick up competitors after they’ve been tossed off the backs of broncs or bulls–but he hasn’t confirmed or denied this either. He’s kind of a reticent horse. Chevy is the latest addition to our horse community. I don’t know his lineage, and he doesn’t have a former career because he’s never been ridden, but he’s a good-looking horse who likes being with the other horses. This morning as my daughter was leaving for work, Monte placed himself slightly behind her car. She honked; he maintained a glacial calm. She started backing slowly; he didn’t move. She nudged him ever so slightly with her taillight; he shifted a greater portion of his bulk into the car’s path. At this point, Chevy decided to join him behind the car. Meanwhile, Feather, a curly black dog of unknown lineage (probably border collie and springer spaniel, but she hasn’t confirmed or denied either), was taking an interest, barking at the horses from inside the yard fence. Inspired, I opened the gate and told […]
Welp, it’s finally happened. After weeks of hopeful peeks at my phone, the final day on my six-day forecast shows an expected high that is below 90 degrees. If all goes according to plan, next Monday, the seventh of October, the temperature here in our portion of South Central Texas will not exceed 88 on the good old American Fahrenheit scale. Bonus: the low that night will dip all the way down to 63, punching through the 90-degree-high and the 70-degree-low barriers all in the same 24-hour-period. Break out the hoodies and yule logs! This is as exciting as the First Toad of Spring. Next harbinger of fall: an actual cold front.
“The psychological result of good planning is to allow the mind, once the actual work begins, to concentrate on details and to forget about the intimidating general picture.” ~Kenneth Atchity, A Writer’s Time The right kind of planning doesn’t hamper us. It frees us.